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A moment in time by ProQuest

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									                                                                                                                                                                                      Humanities

                          Essay

                          A moment in time
                          Published at cmaj.ca on May 29, 2009.

                          Space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-118 mission
                          was the 22nd shuttle flight to the Interna-
                          tional Space Station. During the 12-day mis-
                          sion in August 2007, the crew, including
                          Canadian physician Dave Williams, contin-
                          ued construction on the space station.


                                                                            NASA/courtesy of nasaimages.org

                          R
                                    ight foot first. My strategy for
                                    getting into the foot restraint on
                                    the end of the space station’s ro-
                          botic arm, Canadarm2, always begins
                          with my right foot. I feel my toes slide
                          under the restraint and turn my heel out-
                          wards, locking the boot in place. The rest
                          is easy. I slide my left foot in, release the                                           Years ago, in another millennium, dur-      Scorch’s call brings me back to the task
                          handrails on the exterior of the space sta-                                         ing my medical studies at McGill Univer-        at hand. As I ease toward the shuttle, the
                          tion, lean back and get ready for the ride                                          sity in Montréal, Quebec, I read poet Ted       sound of my breathing blends with the
                          of a lifetime.                                                                      Rosenthal’s book, How Could I Not Be            quiet hum of the suit’s fan. The signifi-
                              Two hours have elapsed in the second                                            Among You?1 chronicling his emotional           cance of our mission is dwarfed by the
                          spacewalk of our flight. Rick Mastrac-                                              response to the terminal phases of              magnitude of infinite space and cosmic
                          chio and I are removing and replacing a                                             leukemia. For Rosenthal, the final phases       time. It is an extremely humbling expe-
                          malfunctioning gyroscope, 1 of 4 aboard                                             of death provided profound insights. His        rience, yet I feel satisfied with the real-
                          the space station that are critical to main-                                        value of living “in the moment,” capturing      ization of the truth in Rosenthal’s words
                          taining its orientation.                                                            forever the joy, wonder and beauty of           that “whatever it is you have, you’ve al-
                              Since lifting off from Kennedy Space                                            each event in our lives has guided me for       ready got. Right there. And it makes that
                          Center 4 days ago the Endeavour has or-                                             3 decades. Standing alone on the slowly         moment an eternity.” In one brief eter-
                          bited the earth more than 50 times to ren-                                          moving arm, suspended in space, I finally       nity, I felt embraced in the 4.5 billion–
                          dezvous and dock with the space station.                                            understood the significance of his words.       year history of our planet.
                          Our crew of 7 trained for 2 years for this                                              Turning slowly to my right, I look              As the moon emerges above the port
                          mission; each of our 4 spacewalks re-                                               over the gleaming white shuttle into the        truss of the space station, the path to the
                          quires precision choreography between                                               infinite void of space. There is a black-       lunar surface and on to Mars beckons,
                          the spacewalkers and the crew inside op-                                            ness no earthly experience has prepared         challenging future generations of space
          
								
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